Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Spiderman Question: 3D Printing

"There's great educational content on YouTube," shared one educator. "Why are we still blocking it?"
"Skype is also a great tool," another shared, "but why are we still blocking it?"

Ever wonder how come technology doesn't play by the rules? Why are our creations so evil in one context, so transformational in another? These thoughts popped into my head as I reflected on 3D printers. These are powerful devices that, while expensive right now, will undoubtedly go down in price. As a school district, if I had a 3D printer, how would I use it for good?
3D Printed pistols

Some have chosen to use 3D printers as way to make guns. What I find really interesting in this remark:
“Significant advances in three-dimensional (3D) printing capabilities, availability of free digital 3D printer files for firearms components, and difficulty regulating file sharing may present public safety risks from unqualified gun seekers who obtain or manufacture 3D printed guns,” reads a May 21 bulletin from the Joint Regional Intelligence Center obtained by Fox News. “Limiting access may be impossible.”
Limiting access IS impossible. Over 100,000 downloads, the plans for printing a plastic pistol are out there for anyone with an Internet connection to access. Making great ideas and plans for achieving this can be likened to how we are advocating change in schools. Let's make the technology ubiquitous and, in so doing, make it impossible for traditional network nazis to control. In fact, those network control freaks have thrown up their hands and gotten wise over the last few years, saying, "We can't block everything. You need to figure this out and have some conversations! Teach digital citizenship or something."

I've grown up watching Spiderman and every movie seems to highlight the quote. In the clip at the end of this blog entry, Parker/Spiderman (Toby Maguire) labels his power as both a blessing and curse, embracing them both.

For 3D guns, it may be about making something that saves lives, not unlike the story of the doctors who 3D-print an emergency airway tube and save an infant:
“Quite a few of the doctors said that he had a good chance of not leaving the hospital alive,” said the mother of the baby boy, who suffered from a severe version of tracheobronchomalacia, causing his bronchus to collapse.
Desperate for a solution, the doctors obtained emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to surgically sew the 3D-printed splint on the child’s airway. “It was amazing. As soon as the splint was put in, the lungs started going up and down for the first time and we knew he was going to be OK,” said Michigan University Professor Dr. Glenn Green, who came up with save-saving solution, with his partner Dr. Scott Hollister.
Life seems to be about what we embrace...whether it will be a blessing or a curse.

"With great power comes great responsibility."

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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